Wahoo! My Hero is in the Zoo.

Whew. A year and a half after beginning to write my fifth novel, I have the first of three parts finished.

The book is a whimsically humorous apocalyptic novel with a heavy theme: how much freedom we are willing to give up for safety and how much safety we are willing to give up for freedom. When the world goes through a time of re-creation, most human survivors opt to go to a place of refuge, which turns out to be a human zoo, but my hero, Chip, wants to preserve his freedom at all costs. Or almost all costs. He deals with killer toads, giant bugs, growing volcanoes, and a multitude of other traumas, but he cannot deal with the end of his stash of hard candy.

I am a slow writer, but this first part progressed slowly even by my standards. The circumstances of the book caused part of the problem — poor Chip had to traverse most of the 100 pages by himself, which is a hard task for any writer. Characters — and writers — need other characters to bounce off to bring interest, conflicts, and twists to the story. And personal circumstances caused the rest of the problem: life and death (not mine) got in the way, as did learning how to use a computer, learning the internet, editing my books for publication, proofing them, learning how to promote. (Though I wonder about the last — does anyone ever learn how to promote, or do we just paddle around until our books finally sink or swim?)

But, word by word, sentence by sentence, I got those pages written, and my hero is finally safe. Now I have to start over with a new set of problems for Chip — and me. Somehow I have to get him to the point where he wants to give up safety for freedom, but after all his trauma, I’m not sure how to goad him. I thought of making the place of refuge ultimately an unsafe place, but while it would get him out of there, it would not serve the theme.

Sorry to cut this short, but I have to go introduce Chip to some of his fellow inmates. Should be interesting. In the first part Chip had too few people to deal with, now he has too many.

I can hardly wait to see what happens.

9 Responses to “Wahoo! My Hero is in the Zoo.”

  1. eBookGuru Says:

    I think life may just be easier in the zoo….If you ask my wife, she’d likely say I belong there anyway 🙂

    I love the writing process, when the story develops before your eyes.


  2. Aaron Lazar Says:

    Oh, what a wonderful premise for your book, Pat! Congrats on getting this far, and hope your focus and energy hold out so you can finish it up soon. ;o) Happy New Year!

  3. joylene Says:

    Congratulations, Pat. I understand exactly how you feel. Some books just take longer, particularly when we challenge ourselves to write outside our comfort zone.

    I’m working on a new book that going very slowly too. After 2 months, I only have 13,000 words written.

  4. Suzanne Francis Says:

    Just make it mind-numbingly boring… Chip will be begging for some danger and variety after ten or fifteen pages. (I suspect Heaven, if it exists, might suffer from some of the same! 🙂 )

  5. ~Sia~ Says:

    How fun, Chip has a foible. Hard candy. So how does he feel being in a Zoo?

    Now if was me, it would have to be chocolate. I could get violent if they took my chocolate or coffee, lolol!

  6. Pat Bertram Says:

    Sia, no you wouldn’t get violent. I have a hunch the food is drugged — the inmates all seem quite happy for now. I loved the idea that he could survive all sorts of horrors, including the deletion of most earthlings, yet fall apart when his candy is gone.

    Suzanne, Boring — and that’s part of it, but I wonder if he could also have a need to take responsiblity for his own life. The other problem with boring — how do I make it boring for him (100 pages worth) and not make it boring for the reader?

  7. Suzanne Francis Says:

    Well you’ll have to layer on the boringness with a sub-story (a romance of course… 🙂 ) It would build up over time, with him, at first, torn between feelings of relief and safety and later finding that stultification is actually much worse.

    I was also thinking you might use his little peccadillo that you mentioned in the beginning of the book about not sharing a bed. Insomnia can make people very desperate.

  8. Suzanne Francis Says:

    PS Edit my comment if I’ve given too much away…

  9. Pat Bertram Says:

    One thing about not sharing a bed: he no longer has a choice — there are no more beds! His peccadillo will be of interest in the third part, when he ends up falling asleep with the woman. The two of them don’t get along in the second part and for much of the third part. I had planned to show that they belonged together by his falling asleep with her after they had sex, but it just dawned on me that it would be better if it came before. That way I can show that they belong together before they know it themselves. I’ll have to think about this.

    By the way, you have a great memory. I’ll have to be careful what I say around you. 🙂

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